They meet, years later, unexpectedly. Startled greetings exchanged over the huffing noises of a train. Each wandering, alone, and for some time now. It's not discussed, but they start wandering together.

This is how he falls in love: hard, and without warning. The demon couldn't change that, nor the soul, nor time. This is his nature. This is his truth, and it's enduring. The only thing that's changed is a resolve to keep his silence. To keep his distance. To love without expecting love returned. He loves Xander in this way.

It’s a smile that makes Xander finally see. "You're so beautiful," he says, wonderingly, before he has a chance to think. It's a funny thing to say about a man, to a man, but it's true. Spike smiles, and his face is like a sunflower opening to the light. That face hasn't seen sunlight for more than a century, and it never will again; and the thought is like a knife-twist in Xander's heart. Spike's face deserves sunlight.

Xander's steady stream of whispered words, the look in his eye, the beckoning beat of his heart. Spike doesn't believe it, won't let himself. Too much, too dangerous, deadly, even, to hope, again. These are things to be examined, explained, and set aside. Xander is lonely, of course. They've shared a history, and now, a kind of friendship. There's the insistence of desire, the body's yearning. He thinks that Xander must mistake these things for love.

Xander despairs of making himself understood. Words are ignored, or denied. He tries another way. The truth, spoken in his touch, and in his kiss. He feels it: the moment Spike believes him.

This is how he speaks to me, Spike thinks. The truth in his heart, a flutter of wings, before it settles.

The End